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Leafy Hampstead? Neighbours object to artificial oak tree

If it was a giant gnome would it be allowed?

25 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

“OF all the ridiculous things we have to endure in Hampstead,” reads one objection, “I think this has to be the daftest.”

And so begins a battle over what should constitute leafy in leafy NW3, as it emerged this week that neighbours in picturesque Well Road have complained to Camden Council over the installation of an artificial oak tree.

Property consultants insist the brown and green fake tree bolted to a plinth outside a recently built house should be granted a ‘certificate of lawful development’, but objectors are adamant that planners should rule it not to be in keeping with the Hampstead conservation area.

“This plastic tree resembles Disneyland,” said one resident. “It is ugly, un-eco friendly and not in keeping with nature, the Heath and Hampstead. It’s a pathetic eyesore.”

Another added: “Plastic should be made illegal in this country, let alone an ugly plastic tree in a conservation area. Camden must be ahead of the curve and not let this eyesore remain.” A further objection predicted that it would turn blue over time.

Although several neighbours suggested the tree is made of plastic, the Pegasus Group, which has submitted the application, said the tree is made of fibreglass with an aluminium frame.

Some of the objections filed with Camden Council

Residents living close to the Heath have long treasured Well Road, formerly home to Gothic novelist Daphne du Maurier, for its ornate lampposts and leafy, natural trees.

The objections, published on Camden Council’s planning website, however, show neighbours are unimpressed with the new addition.

“It’s an eyesore and could be a precedent for much worse,” one said. “If it was a giant gnome would it be allowed? Lowers the tone of the neighbourhood. Out of keeping with local architecture. Environmentally unfriendly. Just awful.”

In its application, however, Pegasus said the installation of the tree did not count as a building development as it did not require a builder to erect it and “the tree is not a permanent structure as it does not have any foundations and could be disassembled easily.”

It added that a “certificate of a lawful development should be issued, as expeditiously as possible” – the system used for works which are considered permitted without full-scale planning permission.

Camden Council is now considering the application with a decision on whether the tree can stay due to be made over the summer.

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